They say that the best-kept secrets are those hidden in plain-sight – and that certainly feels true of St Katharine Docks.
Sheltered under the strong and silent shadow of the Tower of London, London’s only marina is a treasure trove of intimate cafés and quirky establishments, with a spectacular line-up of yachts and vessels (including the Royal Barge Gloriana and the Thames Barge) completing the picture-postcard setting.
St Kats Docks is actually steeped with an intriguing history and heritage, tracing its roots all the way back to the 10th Century when King Edgar gave this land to a group of knights who traded here! The site has always had a self-contained sense of community, with the Royal Hospital of St Katharine founded in c. 1147 followed by the addition of a Church, orchards, school, court, prison, factories, breweries and housing – to the area, which became known as St Katharine’s Precinct.
Centuries later (in 1825), the site was transformed into the Telford Docks. A gateway for trading luxury goods from all over the world, it was symbolic of Britain’s staggering wealth and global reach.
The changing nature of the economy eventually led to The Docks’ rejuvenation, with older warehouses gradually giving way to modern-day offices, shops, restaurants and luxury apartment blocks… However the enterprising spirit and long-standing traditions (including Royal patronage) have remained.
Today there are plenty of draws to guide you across the gentle waterfront of St Kat Docks, which is now quite notably a foodie’s destination in its own right. Here are my top picks of places to eat and drink in the area.
With a string of successful openings behind him (Encant, Sibarita and Rambla, most recently), Victor Garvey is a chef who needs no introduction. Bravas Tapas in St Kats Docks is his first – and some might say still the most endearing – restaurant, showcasing modern Basque cuisine in a homily-rustic surrounds.
Expect impeccably fresh produce and gloriously-rich, unfettered flavours. Memorable highlights include melt-in-your-mouth bites of spinach croquetas; a Castilian truffle and mushroom bisque (poured table-side into a resting claret glass!); and salty blocks of patatas bravas dipped in whipped aioli and a tangy salsa… The vibrantly-textured tapas are dispatched with a strong selection of Spanish wines and cocktails, making for a meal you’ll want to linger over!
Bravas, Ivory House, St. Katharine Docks, London, E1W 1AT
Situated right across from the royal barge Gloriana, is this cheerily-relaxed café from husband and wife duo, Rana and Peyman Darban. The award-winning coffee (available with oat milk!) is accompanied by a scrummy selection of cakes and treats – including the utterly-delightful banana bread, heaped with honeyed mascarpone and berries for a luscious touch!
White Mulberries, Ivory House, St. Katharine Docks, London E1W 1AT
Dokke Living Room
To say that the Asian-inspired fusion dishes at Dokke are unique, would be an understatement. Helmed by private island specialist Neil Wager, the menu here is an instruction in the beauty of foraged ingredients, gracefully framed by captivating colours and awe-inspiring textures.
If you’re looking for an adventurous change from the usual, I’d especially recommend their new bottomless weekend menu which includes the likes of a cloud egg and charcoal sourdough festooned with avocado and all sorts of ethereal trimmings. Brunch will never be the same again. Full review, here.
Dokke, Ivory house, St. Katharine Docks, London E1W 1AT
The Dickens Inn
Criss-crossing over the walkway, you’ll find yourself outside The Dickens Inn – a charming pub and restaurant housed within a reconstructed 18th century warehouse. Once inside, exposed oak beams, cosy corners and rustic touches make for a snug setting to be ensconced within, whilst nursing a Hot Pimm’s to warm you up on a chilly winter’s evening!
The Dickens Inn, St. Katharine Docks, London E1W 1UH
World Food Market
Every Friday also sees a melting pot of cuisines and cultures arrive at The Docks, with Epicurean Events’ World Food Market. The regularly-changing roster of traders features all manners of global-inspired street food, from gyoza dumplings and Thai-style noodles to Spanish paella and more!
Every Friday from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm on Marble Quay.
Of course, there’s plenty else to keep you occupied as the Docks are also home to an art gallery and sailing shop. You can watch the locking-in of vessels here each day; and sail up the Thames in the summer months, before mooring right next to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge!
What’s more, St Kats Docks hosts a number of exciting events through the year (from a floating film festival to outdoors yoga!). I’ll be updating this space with notable dates for your diary, so be sure to check back when you can.
50 St Katharine’s Way, St Katharine’s & Wapping, London E1W 1LA
For more information on getting to The Docks, do have a look at their website, here.
This post was written in collaboration with St Katharine Docks.